2019: Ortom stockpiling arms ahead of elections — Benue APC leaders
By Dirisu Yakubu
•Akume on way to political retirement – Gov
Leaders and stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State, at the weekend accused Governor Samuel Ortom of stockpiling arms and training a militia group preparatory to the 2019 general elections in the state. The leaders also called on the governor to live up to his oath of office by obeying the laws and Constitution of the country in the discharge of his official duties.
At a meeting at the Abuja residence of the lawmaker representing Benue North-West, Senator George Akume, the APC stalwarts, amongst other vices, accused the governor of maltreating 11 members of the state House of Assembly who refused to defect with him to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) even as it alleged that 11 local government council chairmen, which pledged their loyalty to the APC in the wake of the governor’s defection, were being starved of funds in the running of their councils’ affairs.
Akume, who, on behalf of the party leaders, addressed journalists in his Maitama residence, warned that if nothing was urgently done to arrest “the drift to unconstitutionality in the state,” there would be a breakdown of law and order, adding that “impunity will collide with impunity.”
Reading from a prepared speech entitled, “Dearth of Democracy and Constitutionalism in Benue State under Governor Samuel Ortom,” Akume came short of calling for the declaration of a state of emergency in the state even as he regretted the role he played in making Ortom governor way back in 2015.
“Governor Ortom apart from recruiting and arming militia in order to cause mayhem in the 2019 general elections, has continued to use his Livestock Guards and Vigilante Group to harass and intimidate APC supporters across the State, particularly those who have refused to defect with him to the PDP. Nigerians may wish to recall that in January 2018, soldiers of the 93 Battalion in Takum Area of Taraba State had arrested nine members of the Benue State Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) which was later renamed Livestock Guards with AK-47 rifles”, the senator said.
Meanwhile, Ortom, in a response, dismissed the allegations leveled against him even as he described the APC leaders as a small band of people on their way to political retirement. In a statement signed by the Special Adviser (Media and ICT) to the Governor, Tahav Agezua, Ortom tasked Akume to account for his 11 years at the Senate, rather than accusing him of financial recklessness.
“The so-called world press conference addressed by Senator Akume and his co-travellers to political retirement, in Abuja, is yet another futile attempt to resurrect a diminished platform which has lost touch with the people”, Agezua said.